The Austen Girls is a fictional story featuring real life people, written into a plot inspired by the times.
Writer and presenter, Lucy Worsley (you might have seen her on TV), is the Chief Curator at Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces and has many historical facts and experiences to draw upon.
In The Austen Girls, she’s set her story in Georgian England.
As it opens, cousins Fanny and Anna are making their debut in society, and are expected to find husbands and ‘marry well’.
As they navigate the waters of coming of age, they face the pressure of expectations and people who are not always what they present themselves to be.
All the while, they also have the example and advice of their Aunt Jane.
She tells Fanny and Anna that they should consider themselves in training to become heroines, like those in novels.
Aunt Jane has never married and lives as independently as a woman could at that time. She is Jane Austen, who we know today as the author of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and other novels.
In The Austen Girls, it’s not known that Aunt Jane is an author, and the revelation of that secret to one of her nieces has a particular place in the story.
Meanwhile, Fanny and Anna learn lessons about life, make choices and forge their own paths, with bumps along the way.
There’s gentle romance, and a touch of intrigue, as the author integrates historical elements of the period, particularly social norms which may prompt thoughts or discussion of the differences between then and now.
The Austen Girls weaves a story that transports you to a period that is foreign to 21st Century readers, and will make you thankful for the opportunities we have today.
A few pages on what was real are provided at the end, and offers some context for anyone wanting to know more.
Title: The Austen Girls
Author: Lucy Worsley
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $15.99
Publication Date: May 2020
For ages: 12+
Type: Young adult fiction